Us Time in Dallas

When I went to visit my son, I had not expected to get a free day to be with just him.  Thanks to my daughter in law who thought we might like that, we got that.

Having time alone hadn’t happened since I don’t remember when. It’s been rare for us in any case, because once he got into and then out and since the Marines, he’s been all over the place. He first off went to Florida then to Lubbock for school. Then he met his wife, had children, started fostering and well, it’s been crazy. Prior to that was high school and sports, so without knowing it you realize it’s been a long time since one on one time.

Whew!  So here we are and what to do?  Well, that was easy.  We went to Dallas.  It turned out to be a very nice day. The weather was in our favor despite it’s fickleness everywhere this year.  I still carried my umbrella to our first stop, but didn’t need it. After the first few threatening moments, it cleared up. Still a little nippy at first.

Our first stop was Starbucks, a picture in front of the Kennedy memorial and Plaque and then the Red Museum, which tells the early history of Dallas, including the good, the bad and the ugly and slightly sanitized.

Well, let me tell you. Ry and I are the kind of the people that don’t just go in and out of a museum.  The guy at the front desk told us it would probably take an hour.  We were there over two.  We read and study everything.  That’s what we do.  As we left we chuckled about it.

When the kids were small, I had yearly passes to the San Diego Zoo.  It was perfect for us. We could take each visit, one section at a time and enjoy it.  It didn’t matter how many times we went, we still lingered.

The history of Dallas is complex and involved. It was apparent that in it’s day, there were controlling and omniscient powers that dominated the area. This exhibit covers those early days and the evolution of it’s early inhabitants, foundation, it’s railroads, entrepreneurs, politics, music and many other interesting facts including some prehistory.  Pretty neat.

We had lunch at Ellens’ which was awesome and everywhere we went we fought over who would pick up the tab.

Our next stop was, of course, the Kennedy Museum.  If you think we spent a long time at the Red Museum, you should have seen us here.  First of all they give you these earphone thingy’s that narrate step by step the chain of events, but in addition to that there are through it all, things written and photos that give you the backstory of the Kennedy’s plus also take you step by step to the assassination. Fortunately for us, we could stop the audio and do further perusals of our own.

Jack

We analyzed the spot where Oswald  shot President Kennedy from.  I say supposedly, because no matter how long I looked at it, it made no sense to me. I understand why there has been speculation on this.   I’ll explain. Take a look see.

Picture one shows where Oswald was situated when he took the shot.  Picture two is where he took the first shot.  In fact, by the second shot Kennedy’s vehicle was almost to the bridge. Keep in mind, the trees were small in those days.

shot2

Green vs red.  So why did he take the far shot instead of the near shot? or, better yet when the car was rounding the corner? Perch

You can see the angle they focus on (see no trees?) but once you’re in the building you can see so many easier possibilities. Those are far distances.  I want to know the why.

Well, you can imagine why it took us so long there.  If you’ve never been, check it out. It is fascinating and perplexing.  Has anyone else noticed that too?

After we were done there, we went to his favorite fishing spots.  My boy likes to fish and that’s an understatement. For his birthday Candace bought him a canoe (or kayak?) so he could go further out.  I got him a life vest and my brother and I included a gift certificate from Outdoor World, so he could outfit it with whatever else he might need.

My brother in San Antonio would come out two days later to make Ry’s day even better.

Our last shot of the day was a reflection of a beautiful day and special moment with a great guy and my son.Lake

Til next MARCH! Proud of you son.

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Fostering in Love

Being a foster parent is quite time consuming, with constant challenges.  It is not for the faint of heart. The children they get have their own set of problems because of their previous environment or the situation they were taken out of, be it abuse, drugs, neglect or any number of other things and there are far too many of them.  One needs to be patient, flexible and have hearts full of love while still taking care of the needs of their own children as well.

I recently spent a week with my son and family in the Dallas area in March.

The kid’s of course surrounded me and lead me to all their handiwork, so that I understood… Welcome

There were also little signs for where my stuff goes and where I would stay.  It was one of the best times I’ve spent with them. There is so much love in this household, you could burst.

Then, I got to share my space  with Piglet or perhaps I should say, he had the honor,  reluctantly, of sharing his space with me.  Piglet was a most gracious host and was kind enough to not snore or smell bad. You can see him snubbing my son here.  Had I had my video going, the scene that followed after our first night together and him refusing to go back to his room was like a scene out of comedy capers.  He got over it. By the end of my visit, we were conversing like best  pals.  Yes, he talks…snort of.

Granted, my primary goal was to get as much quality time with those youngsters as I possibly could in one week and we sure did. With spring break on, we were free of school schedules so had lots of time to do things. The children were more fun now because they are older and far more interesting to me as I was to them.  They competed daily for my attention.

Their new little foster child will be headed home soon, but in the meantime, she’s just one of the bunch.  I cannot share stories, but I can share you what this foster family’s home is like.  Every child deserves to get what they get here. L O V E

Because of their responsibilities, their travel-ability is restricted and unfortunately I don’t get out that way nearly as often as I would like to.  We do, however, Marco Polo regularly so the tots don’t forget they have this other grandma way out in California. Right now, they only have one foster child in their home but that varies.

In their short marriage, they have fostered 12 children, of which they’ve adopted one and had two during that time.

It can sometimes be heartbreaking letting the little ones go, but they hope that however short their time may be with them, that they will have impacted their lives positively.  Each of them has a place in their hearts and on their wall.

I know the latest one is going to be a toughy to give up.  Do you think Ry likes her?

On occasion, the parent or whoever gets the child in the end will come back to complement them for their good work with their child.  Parent’s on occasion will express how much they hope they too will one day be able to parent as well. One parent lets them have monthly visits and that’s always special to them.

Sadly, not all children go back to the parent.  Sometimes they get split up in the end, either going to different relatives who feel they cannot handle them all or to separate “homes”, which always hurts.

I think I wrote about Antoine in an earlier post.  He was not their first foster but he is their first adoption. He’s a hoot and only recently realized he was black. A little girl pointed it out to him one day and told him how he’s different than his siblings. She was black.  So understandably he asked about it and they explained. They reassured him he is still their child and will always be loved. He was about 1 1/2 when he first came to them. He is now six.

We attempted to, at one point, go to the zoo, but it being spring break and like everyone else in this country having suffered unusual weather, everyone and their brother had the same idea to take advantage of the beautiful weather we were blessed with.  Because we would have had to walk a mile just to get in, not to mention all the walking you do once in and then walking tired youngun’s back to the car (no shuttles!), we adults vetoed that event.  So instead, we went to Crayola land!

crayolaland

We also got to see how they made Crayolas and got one each in our favorite color with our names on it. Did you know they can make 5,000 Crayons in 6 minutes? It was actually quite fascinating. The downside here was there were so many little ones and adults running around, it was all I could do to keep track of the ones in my charge. Not to be negative, but child populated places are prime targets for abductions.

My daughter in law is a school teacher and her specialty is special ed. She at one time had her own classroom but is now  training teachers on how to work with special needs students. Even though she can put in long hours, she comes home to give each of these kids her undivided attention up until bedtime, which is fortunately at 7.

MaggieM loved the doll I got her.  It is a china doll, which is breakable and she took it everywhere with her, even to bed. The doll had been on my shelf for years.  Cute, cute.

the doll

I knew Hunter loved puzzles, but I guess the one I got him was too complex, but we took it apart anyway.  They both love super heroes, so I got them some super hero things. The two boys are two months apart.  So, it’s like having twins.

Hunter as I’ve mentioned before has autism and attends public school with his brother, By parental request, they are in separate classrooms.  If I understood correctly, it was so they could rely less on each other.  As it is their two classes came together one day and the two boys zeroed in on each other and began wrestling roughly with one another, as is their norm, much to the alarm of the teachers.  ooops!  Hunter’s teacher later expressed her gratitude for them having made that choice.  LOL

Hunter and Antoine enjoy sports. Antoine loves cars and trucks. Hunter loves puzzles and dinosaurs. When he was younger, his form of communication was a growl. So learning to speak and motor skills were learned at a slower pace.  He is fortunate to have parents with the skills to aid in that development, although Candace gives credit to his many other teachers and therapists.  I think he’s perfectly fine now and quite verbal. Hunter Draws April 2019

He also likes to draw and so it’s quite apropos that this chalk drawing would be of his favorite animal.  Quite good for only six, don’t you think?

They have camp out night once a week and each child snuggled up at days end for the night.

campout - Copy

On each child’s bedroom door are little hearts, where positive affirmations from each other are regularly posted. They are encouraged to encourage one another.

This household has a motto as you enter the front door that goes like this. Motto - Copy

And, in case you don’t know what it says next to loud… it reads “really well” in swirls.

As I’m getting ready to leave, Hunter asks me, when I will be returning.  I replied, “I don’t know.”  He knew though.

He says, “March”.

“But, it’s March right now.”

That meant one of three things, I either don’t leave or I turn around and come right back or I just come back next year, same time.

Next stop:  My “me time” with my son.

Senseless Deaths

I have recently had two deaths in the family.  I am still working through them, but not for the reasons you might think.

Yes, I am sorry they are gone, but I’ve accepted that already. I cried a little but my grief is mixed with anger, so I know I will eventually have to work through that.

One I will miss terribly.  The other, I will always wonder how I could have made a bigger difference in his life.

Death number 1:

The first death was my cousin’s.  My cousin was fantabulous.  I didn’t grow up with him.  I babysat him. He was considerably younger and so I never really was around when he was a teen or growing up.

The visits to our Mexican side of the family had been few and far between, by then I was a mom and responsible parent.  My young cousins seemed wild and we all worried and wondered if they belonged to gangs. One visit in particular, I remembered seeing gunshot holes in a straight line along all the cars across the street from their house.  My aunt and uncle moved from there shortly thereafter wanting to get the kids to a better neighborhood. Given the circumstances of his death, my brother’s response to the news is, how grateful he is, we didn’t grow up in that environment. Mother kept us away.  Mother may not have been quite sane, but she still had a mother’s protective instinct. I thought for a long time she was ashamed of her family, but perhaps not.

Still, they are family and for that reason, I’ve since tried to get to know them better.

For 30 years, I lived out of state and hadn’t seen them in quite a long time even though I stayed in touch by phone and mostly just with my aunt, their mother.  When I returned four years ago, I started visiting them again.  All grown up now, “RA” (not his real name) and I became buddies.  During my time away, he’d had four kids and they’d had kids. He was no longer with either of their mothers and now lived next door to my aunt, his mom.

On m first visit, I drove up in my “dirty” car.  I’d just washed it either a couple of days before or the day before.  He insisted, he’d detail it.  In short order he had all his buddies washing and buffing every inch of it.  Before long it looked brand new!!!  I didn’t realize that washing alone doesn’t cut it. A good waxing and buffing makes a world of difference!  Spit spot.

I offered to give him something for it but he always refused.  When my son got his new, used car, he taught him how to take care of it and when they were done his car now looked spanking new.  That particular time, because he had worked on two of our cars and quite laboriously, I might add, I once again offered him a sizable amount of cash for helping out.  That time he took it.  I think he went to the casino afterwards. I was, of course, disappointed and vowed to not do that again.  Instead, I thought I’d give him something in trade, perhaps.  I’m a first born.

On some afternoons, we would talk and occasionally have a beer together. He was warm and kind. I did get around to asking him if he’d belonged to a gang and he said, No, never.  We would talk about everything and I saw nothing but a good guy.

He was also quite artistic and gifted me a Betty Boop clock that I knew my airline pilot brother would be envious of and he was. Betty Boop

On that first visit, when I was in LA for a screenwriters workshop, I told him of my screenwriting desires.  He had gotten so excited about my screenplays.  It was neat, he looked up to me for all he thought I’d achieved, even though a part of me was so afraid to disappoint. He was interested in what I’d written and even hooked me up with a guy who had once been in law enforcement who might help my research. My story centered on a kidnapping and a woman’s unknown connection to the cartel.  Later he would tell me, “Cuz, don’t do it.”  He was quite serious. I didn’t understand his change of heart, but even though he said it sounded great, he reiterated, “don’t do it”. He said, it was dangerous.  It never made sense to me since lots of writers write about the cartel.  In fact, there are so many cartel stories out there, how would one more make a difference?  I said, it’s fiction after all and my queries were non specific, plus I told him, most everything I had, I got off the internet, the rest was made up. Nevertheless, I let it go because it wasn’t developing the way I wanted it to anyway.  Unfortunately, there was also one about a kidnapping that came out soon after.  Plus that year, so many cartel movies began to surface that I would be hard pressed to sell it anyway, even with revisions.

On my aunts property, she had fruit trees. RA would harvest giant grapefruit and from her tall avocado trees, avocados.  She would sell them to the neighbors or passersby that would stop and ask.  Of course, that was frequent since RA made her a big sign inviting them to buy.   “RA” would also be the one to climb this tall ladder to harvest the fruit so his mom  could sell them for a little cash (like 10 for $1 or so), mostly so they wouldn’t go to waste.  When I was there, I’d hold the ladder for him as he’d tie it and himself in before he’d get to work some 20+ feet up.  Between him and his brother they took good care of his mom and did things for her all the time.

A few weeks ago, he was shot, assassination style.  The news said that, except for his age, 63,  it had all the markings of a gangland “hit”.  But what got me is that it was a story that got snuffed almost immediately. It was weeks before his body would be released to the family.  Am I overstepping my bounds in saying so?  I hope not.

It was around 2 AM.  He was riding his bicycle home, after visiting a “friend”, after said friend called him over.  Was it a set up?  We still have no answers and pictures are sparse for a reason.

At first, I thought perhaps, because I knew he liked to gamble, that maybe he’d gotten in debt with the wrong person.  But that was just a guess.  No one else seemed to have a clue.

I’ve since learned the FBI is investigating.  The FBI?  Hmmmm

The story gets curiouser and curiouser.

Death Number  2 –

Last weekend, we deposited my ex son-in-law’s ashes at sea.  My daughter and granddaughter came out for the services.  She was his first and I believe his only legal wife. His mom, sister and ex football jock friends from high school were there and all his homeless “crew” were there.  The contrast disconcerting.

The homeless sat or stood on one side and the country clubbers on the other.  How did this once good looking guy go astray?

I knew he had an alcohol problem when he married my daughter and I only suspected the drugs.  One time, when I visited them, I had observed him stepping out momentarily with something in his hands and then returning moments later, but I was naive to those matters at the time. Was it a drug deal?

What I didn’t know is that he had once used my daughter, while she was pregnant with our grand daughter as a drug mule. So, his addiction and her love caused them both to make some unwise choices. I never knew.  Drugs and alcohol, for me anyway, have never been a temptation, for which I’m grateful.

We talked them into moving to Colorado to live with us hoping that away from his druggy friends, that he’d kick the habit.  They were there for six or seven months.  We employed him at our bicycle business and kept him busy, but he was miserable.  He didn’t have his drugs, that we knew of, but he still had access to alcohol.

While cleaning one day, I found a stash of alcohol, several bottles of vodka, whiskey or whatever.  I went back to check later and those were gone and several others had taken their place. Where and when was he getting these? One day, I asked him to run to the store for me, so he borrowed my bike and took off.  After more than an hour, I went looking for him on my son’s bike. (the store was nearby) I found him sitting on the bridge, downing cans of beer and tossing the empties into the Colorado River!!!  I took the cans from him and we had a chat.  When the chat was over he hugged me, thanked me and then closed in for a kiss.  I pushed him away and told him, he was drunk and I’m his mother in law, for Pete’s sake!  He was only 21.

I wasn’t angry at him because I recognized only too well that this young man had a serious problem. (My ex had been an alcoholic, but a good natured one such as BAC, (not his name). He was a teddy bear… a gorgeous, handsome, charismatic hunk (at the time).  Women had trouble not forgiving him. Instead of getting angry, they forgive and forgive, which was a disservice to him. Some time later, the kids announced they were moving back to CA. We were not happy.

They got their tax return and he was going to go on ahead, get a place and send for the girls.  We never saw him again.  My daughter, after waiting awhile, learned he had moved in with her former roommate.  She filed a divorce in absentia.  I’m not sure if that’s the correct term.  She would later marry a guy who became the only dad, my grand daughter would recognize as dad.  He and his family love her to pieces.

BAC didn’t show up in her life again until he learned she’d had a son. His mom, sister and brother were always in Becca’s life, so it wasn’t as if he was totally unknown to her, but he wasn’t dad and she’d never met him.  She finally agreed to meet him.  By then, he’d been in and out of prison, lost an eye in a fight and was living on the streets.  He’d stolen from friends, and abused his friendships. He was a mess, but despite that she says philosophically, “he lived life on his terms.”  She doesn’t hate or admire him.

My daughter met his “wife” and she told her that he stayed away as much as possible because, he said regarding his daughter, “she was the only good thing I ever did” and didn’t want to ruin that. She was the only child he would ever have.

Now, here he was, at 48, in a box. (His mom gave permission to use his pic on this blog.)

The program had a picture of him when he was young and the way my daughter remembered him when they first met.  She lost it.  She never expected that hurt to spring up after 26 years.

The homeless people laid out a spread you would not believe, but no one, except the homeless ate anything that they’d prepared. Even then, they didn’t eat until most everyone had left. We drank water and dipped only what our own hands touched.  There was a pork loin (several, in fact) that were on the barbecue, but when I saw this guy slicing it up with his filthy hands… well.

My grand daughter and I made an attempt to talk to them, but discovered that most of them seriously suffered mentally and from their addictions. They did say, he talked about us often.  It was difficult to watch. We learned that some of these folks had, at one time, had come from good homes. Some were well educated and talented. I learned they  are provided phones and other resources by family and friends, who have not abandoned them completely, but don’t know what else to do for them. There was among this older group, one young man, who is probably not unlike BAC was at one time and it saddened my heart to see and wonder where he would end up. It was sad all the way around in so many ways.

BAC died peacefully I hear.  He got up one day and sat down at the table and that was it.  He died where he sat.

My daughter said, she believed it started when his father died while he was still in high school.  He never got over it. I think people are more aware of the impact of traumatic events these days, but perhaps not so much then. No two people suffer the same and for some, it is deeply hidden and surfaces subtly.

His high school jock friends turned out. They went to college and he went to drugs, but they were there anyway.  Some were childhood friends and others he’d grown up with later and they came.  Two of his friends went out on their boards to deposit his ashes.  None of his homeless friends except for his wife, would walk that far (one block) to the beach for his send off.  For me, it was so evident who his true friends were.

 

When his friend had paddled the required 1/4 mile to deposit the ashes, he said that once the ashes got wet, they felt like 50 pounds on his back.  The sea was not in his favor and he returned exhausted.  That’s friendship.

Bret sendoff